It’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on our “Back 40” acreage where we planted our potatoes, winter squash, and dry beans so here’s the skinny…

unnamedWe have cut the water off on the 5 acres of dry beans. If you can spot the yellow area of the fields in the picture to the left those are the dry beans that are ready for pulling. The dry bean crops are looking better than than they ever have according to John. However, a few of the varieties that were planted came up spotty. It’s always a guessing game when trying to identify the reasons for a crop that struggles as there are so many variables in farming but we believe it was an irrigation issue versus soil fertility (if you recall we were having major irrigation issues this spring/early summer at a critical time of sowing these crops). I had mentioned in a previous newsletter that it is impossible to get a compost truck over the access bridge in order to build the soil in those fields but because beans fix their own Nitrogen we don’t think fertility is the cause. The varieties that struggled were the larger bean varieties like the Jacob’s Cattle so they just may not have been able to absorb enough moisture to germinate. The great news is that there are a ton of the other varieties that we all love and enjoy cooking with!

unnamed (1)You received some of the first rounds of potatoes from the back 40 in your earlier shares this season and the second round of potatoes are doing okay, not fantastic but okay. They got hilled last week and we cross our fingers that when we harvest them they come up looking great and you will see them again in your shares. Being this is our first year growing in these soils we can learn a lot from these first crops. Some areas of the fields are producing better quality produce than other areas. Unfortunately our winter squash crops are not looking great this year and that is again either due to the irrigation struggles we had and/or the fertility of the soil.
One necessary requirement of a farmer is to be flexible and to constantly adapt to the unforeseen. Crop plans continually change from year to year and even within a season. John, Mike, and Teresa had planned on utilizing the back 40 acreage for all the winter crop plantings so that our other main fields could all be cover cropped and rest for a few months before spring production takes place but because we know we have fertility issues back there we will not be planting in those fields for the winter, it’s just too risky. We will be cover cropping to build the soil nutrients and organisms instead.

unnamed (2)So plans changed and the crew did a HUGE fall plant out last week in our field referred to as “Ramons” which some of you got to tour in the afternoon on our Field Day. The change of plans also means we will be utilizing the fields down the road at the Butano Cut-off parcel (otherwise known as the Westland property). They have been contemplating moving the flower production to those fields at some point in the future but in the meantime we are going to plant our winter crops down there. There is a lot of prep work that needs to happen to that land in order to get it ready for the upcoming plant out. The soil is very dry and needs to be pre-irrigated to get the perfect soil moisture so the tractor can come in and till. Of course it’s just not as simple as turning on the valve and watering… We are waiting on a new water pump to arrive so we can begin the irrigation process and we also need to get piping that doesn’t have a lot of holes in it which is currently what is over there. A farmers’ to-do list is never lacking in tasks!

One exciting “new” crop that got sowed this last week are storage carrots! We always have a gap in our carrot production between winter and by the time the carrots are ready for harvest in the springtime. The storage carrots sown will provide a substantial winter product for all of us. They can either be harvested, topped, and stored in the cooler or kept in the ground and topped little by little with the mower. This will allow us to distribute them consistently to the markets and CSA over the winter months and into spring.